Army ROTC runs off with Cy-Hawk game ball


Coach Paul Rhoads signs the Cy-Hawk game ball, which will be sent off to Iowa City on Friday morning. The ball will be presented by both ISU and U of I ROTC programs at the game on Saturday in Iowa City.

Robert Hein

What started out as a fundraiser in 1982 continues today as a tradition, with more to it than meets the eye. This Friday, the day before the Cyclone football team plays the Hawkeyes, the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Game Ball Run will take place.

The ISU Army ROTC program will run the game ball, presented to its members by head football coach Paul Rhoads, to Tama and hand the ball off to the Iowa Army ROTC program. The Iowa Army ROTC program will then run the ball to the University of Iowa campus.

Before handing the ball off, the cadets from both schools will enjoy a grill-out in Tama together. The ISU cadets will then visit the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, before returning to campus.

The Game Ball Run began in 1982 as a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. In 2005, the fundraiser ended, but the Army ROTC program still continues the tradition of the Game Ball Run today.

“The Game Ball Run is a way for ISU Army ROTC to interact with the U of I Army ROTC program, as well as to get media coverage and show that we are active outside of campus,” said Ethan Subra, senior in journalism and mass communication and press relations officer for the ISU Army ROTC.

Of those in the ISU Army ROTC program, 35 cadets will be running the ball through Colo, State Center, Marshalltown and Tama. These cadets were chosen based on their 2-mile time in the Army Physical Fitness Test. The cadets said there is a sense of pride involved in being chosen to run.

“It makes you proud of yourself,” said Trevor Thein, senior in criminal justice and sociology and cadet captain and officer in charge. Thein also wanted to “let [the underclassmen cadets] be proud of what they are doing for not only themselves but their country as well.”

To begin the day Friday, the entire Cyclone Battalion will be running roughly 2.5 miles through Ames. Following that, the 35 cadets who were chosen to run with the game ball will drive to Colo and run a short distance there. They will then proceed to drive to State Center, Marshalltown and Tama, running a short distance in each town. They will meet the Iowa Army ROTC unit in Tama.

Following the hand off, the ISU cadets will visit the Iowa Veterans Home.

“[The veterans] get to see the people following in their footsteps,” Thein said.

The cadets will talk and share stories with the veterans.

“We are bridging a gap between generations,” Subra said.

The cadets stay at the hospital for roughly an hour before returning home.

Thein, who participated in the run last year and planned the run this year, is excited to pass on the experience to the younger Army ROTC members. He shared his enthusiasm for seeing the cadets show that they are joining part of the armed forces and helping them interact with the community.

The cadets will also be presenting the game ball this Saturday in Iowa City.

After brushing up on their cadences and participating in physical training every Monday and Friday, the cadets from the Army ROTC program at Iowa State are ready to run.